ESL Brainstorming Games

Alphabet Brainstorm

ESL Brainstorming Game - Reading and Writing - Any Level - 30 minutes

Here is an excellent ESL brainstorming game for revising vocabulary and lexical sets. Begin by writing three numbered categories on the board, corresponding to the vocabulary or lexical sets you wish to revise, e.g. 1. clothes 2. drinks 3. verbs. Next to the categories write the letters of the alphabet (A to Z) with a random small number next to each letter, e.g. A - 2, B - 4, C - 1, etc. Next, divide the students into teams of three or four. Give each team a piece of paper. Tell the students to write the letters of the alphabet on the paper. When they have done that, set a time limit (e.g. 5 minutes) and call out a category from the board, e.g. clothes. The teams then race to write down a word from that category, starting with each letter of the alphabet. When the time limit has been reached, have the teams swap papers for marking. Teams then take it in turns to read out the answers on their paper. For each correct word, teams score the number assigned to that letter. Afterwards, tally up the score for each team and then start a new round. The team with the highest score at the end of the game wins.
 

Brainstormers

ESL Brainstorming Game - Reading and Writing - Any Level - 20 minutes

Here is a fun brainstorming game to get your students working together and using English. Divide the students into teams of three or four and give each team a piece of paper. Each team chooses one student to be the 'runner'. The runners go to the teacher's desk and read a given category, e.g. 'Five things you do before you go to bed'. The runners then go back to their teams and tell their team members the category. The teams then brainstorm words from that category and write them down. The first team to finish shouts 'stop' and then calls out their answers. If their answers are correct, they score one point for each word in the category, e.g. five. Another category is then placed on the desk and a new round begins and so on. The team with the highest score at the end of the game wins.
 

Brainstorming Race

ESL Brainstorming Game - Reading and Spelling - Any Level - 20 minutes

This ESL game is ideal for brainstorming new vocabulary or revising categories of words. Draw two to four columns on the board and divide the students into a corresponding number of teams. Have each team line up in front of a column and give each team a marker or chalk for writing. Set a time limit (e.g. five minutes) and then call out a category for the students to brainstorm. The teams' task is to write all the words they can think of belonging to that category in the column. The first student in each team runs to the board, writes a word from the category in the column, runs back, gives the marker or chalk to the next student and goes to the back of the line. Then, the second student runs to the board and so on. When the time limit has been reached, stop the game and check the words and spelling for each team. For each correctly spelt word belonging to the category, teams score one point. Several rounds can be played with a different category being called out each time. The team with the highest score at the end of the game wins.
 

Five Things That...

ESL Brainstorming Game - Writing - Elementary - 20 minutes

In this fun brainstorming game, students try to write down five words from a category that match the teacher's answers. Divide the students into teams of three or four and give each team a piece of paper. Explain that you are going to call out a category and that the aim of the game is for the teams to write down five answers that match the five answers you have written down. Call out a category, e.g. 'Five things that are made of leather'. The students then brainstorm and write down five answers. When all the teams have five answers, have them swap papers for marking. You then call out your five answers. For each matching answer, teams score one point. Play several rounds. The team with the most points at the end of the game is the winner.
 

Outburst

ESL Brainstorming Game - Speaking - Beginner - 20 minutes

This entertaining ESL game is useful for brainstorming categories of words. Divide the students into three or four teams. Each team plays in turn. Call out a category from your word list, e.g. sports. The first team then has one minute to shout out as many words as they can relating to that category. The team scores one point for every word that is on your list. Then, another category is called out and it's the second team's turn to play and so on. The game continues until all the categories have been used. The team with the most points at the end of the game is the winner. As an alternative, repeat the same category with all the teams and reveal the scores and answers at the end of each round.
 

The Invention Game

ESL Brainstorming Game - Speaking - Pre-intermediate - 15 minutes

This enjoyable brainstorming game encourages students to give creative answers. Divide the students into teams of three or four. Tell the students that they are going to play a game where they brainstorm possible uses for everyday objects. Write an object on the board, e.g. a hammer. Ask the students for possible uses for the object. Each time a team calls out an inventive or believable use for the object, award them one point, e.g. 'You can use it as a weapon'. When ideas for an object begin to run out, move on to the next item. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins.
 
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